Author Archive: Liv Siddall

Ls-300

Liv joined It’s Nice That as an intern in 2011 and is now one of our editors. She oversees itsnicethat.com and has a particular interest in illustration, photography and music videos. She is also a regular guest and sometime host on our Studio Audience podcast.

ls@itsnicethat.com@LivSiddall

1635 articles
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    Fate dealt us a good hand a few weeks back, while we were searching for a portrait of Raymond Briggs to accompany an interview we did with him in the latest Printed Pages. The best one we found, one that summed up the temperament of Raymond effortlessly, was by a photographer called Toby Glanville. A quick look at his site confirmed that Toby was a very, very good photographer, with a strong body of work that seems to hold a style, a smell, and a vibe. Toby kindly allowed us to use his portrait of Raymond for the magazine, and to find out a little bit more about his exquisite photography, we asked him a few questions. Here he is on the art a good portrait, his top three photographers and that day he spent with Raymond…

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    Just as I was wondering nervously if Laura Marling had gone and got lost in the wilderness of Joshua Tree for good, she’s gone and announced a new album – hoorah! Just like Beyonce, Laura has accompanied the sudden announcement of her new songs with a video: a truly beautiful little animation from London studio Art & Graft. Featuring a few drops of ink transforming slowly into a wild, headstrong horse galloping through a desert to a world unknown, this powerful little piece of film is enough to remind us of Laura’s own majesty. The rather moving essay on her brand new website backs this up perfectly. Welcome back Laura, you’ve been missed.

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    None of us at It’s Nice That could work out exactly what it was about Daniel Guerrero Fernández’s drawings that we loved, but we all agreed it was great. Clouds, mountains, planets, yin-yangs, waterfalls, swords – something about his portfolio is a cross between K-pop and Game of Thrones with a pinch of Studio Ghibli thrown in for good measure. Anyone that can pour that amount of joy on to a page is fine by me, I just hope that after this great interview over on Urban Outfitters he’s still got some of those pin badges left.

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    This year we spent a good amount of time fawning over a certain shoot by Anna Victoria Best in which she photographed the well-dressed feet of dancers as they scuffed up a well-worn dance floor. That shoot was for Varon, a beautiful piece of print that graces the newsstands biannually and offers a high-contrast, monochromatic glimpse into a more daring side of menswear. If you can believe it, the magazine is now up to its ninth issue, and is now designed by London-based creative Claude d’Avoine. On the mag’s purely black and white aesthetic, Claude says that the magazine is “shot with honest content, encompassing a mix of edgy and classic points of view. The design reflects the honesty in every page. There is no hierarchy between the stories, the idea is that the magazine itself flows consistently from beginning to end.”

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    In a beautiful profile in The Guardian recently, journalist Tim Lewis travelled out to the Hollywood hills to peek behind the gates of Hockney’s jungle-like home to get a glimpse of what the now 77-year-old artist is up to. As it happened, he had been very busy indeed: making a whole bunch of new paintings that are, in classic Hockney-style, moving in a totally different direction from his previous work.

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    As far as guilty pleasures go, this is the gift that keeps on giving. A weighty, velvety publication that flops around seductively in your arms, Mirage No.4 is the lovechild of Frank Rocholl and Henrik Purienne. Focusing on “Fashion, Swimwear and Jetset Hedonism,” the magazine aims to document the more beautiful things in life: girls, sunshine, architecture, vintage cars, sportsmen and the 1970s.

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    I think I’m safe in saying that fans of Panda Bear, the pseudonym of Noah Lennox of Animal Collective, are probably pretty into video games. I’m also sure that those who are into video games (myself included) are also fans of the good vs. evil storyline prevalent in most games and a lot of films that resemble games, Studio Ghibli etc. There is pure beauty in the little guy overcoming the big baddie, or the idea of friends working together to solve a puzzle, or to override some kind of evil power.

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    The seventh issue of the spectacular online photography journal Accent Magazine is here. Pieced together by Lydia Garnett and Lucy Nurnberg, the pair source some of the best young photographers working today and accept submissions of image-based stories from each one to collate into a temporary online space. This issue is truly spellbinding: the stories are even more poignant, the photography is even more crisp and jaw dropping. Personally I find that it can be hard to concentrate on reading a whole printed magazine in one go, but something about this corner of the internet allows me to get stuck in immediately and devour it. Well worth a good half an hour of your time if you can give it. A huge congrats to Lucy and Lydia, again!

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    Stuff like this never gets boring. Remember that super-ancient computer program that allowed you to type something in and have the computer read it aloud? Perfect when you want a machine to tell your big brother that he smells of poop. This cool site by Thirty Labs is similar in that you get to pick what the computer says aloud to you, but different in that the words it compiles are made up of tiny snippets of films. So great to have rude, funny, or just plain boring messages read out by Darth Vader, Garth Elgar, Napoleon Dynamite and Hades from Hercules. Enjoy!

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    Mysterious French artist Sarah-Louise Barbett has been comfortably residing in my favourites folder for years now. She updates her Flickr every now and again with more beautifully painted watercolour scenes of some of the most poignantly boring scenarios imaginable. Sarah-Louise sees the world differently to everyone else, she records odd mundanity with extraordinary beauty and wit – capturing the moment someone leaves a bottle of Fanta on a car roof, or when she catches her dog sitting casually on a sofa. Some people might prefer to use a camera to quickly snap these scenes, but that’s why I love Sarah-Louise so much: she chooses to paint them. That one she did of the chubby black labrador (she does seem to have a thing for dogs) is probably one of my favourite images from this year.

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    David Shrigley’s got a whopper of a new book out entitled Weak Messages Create Bad Situations. I couldn’t agree more. Sometimes, at this time of year, when you look back at those annual round-ups and “photographs that sum up 2014” it can be easy to feel like the world is just so full of disaster and crap. It seems that the people running this planet have been giving us weak, nay wrong messages this whole time! How mean. And what have they created? A bad situation. We love David’s new book, which totally sums up the feeling of helplessly skidding downhill on a bicycle with no brakes towards a cliff. Here he is on the book, dreams, and the world in general.

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    This week, Features Editor Liv Siddall wonders whether the world of illustration, and the events that champion them, have perhaps become a bit stale. And maybe we should take steps to champion as many new and exciting artists as possible, as opposed to falling back on the same names time and time again.

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    There’s a lot of joy at It’s Nice That HQ when our favourite illustrators hit the big time. When Aisha Franz had her latest graphic novel Earthling published by Drawn and Quarterly, it was once again time for celebration. Earthling is the story of an all-female family (two sisters and a mother) who each retreat into imaginary fantasy worlds in order to escape the mundanity and struggle of ordinary life. That makes it sound quite heavy going – but it’s not. It’s full of dark humour, sex and hilarious snippets of perilous teenage life that you’ll be glad are far, far behind you. Also, we’re so used to Aisha’s work being so brightly coloured that this book – drawn entirely in scribbled pencil – is a very interesting new venture for her, one that I personally am a big fan of. Anyone you know who’s into the witty, sarcastic humour of Daniel Clowes’ Ghost World definitely needs to get their hands on this.

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    We came across Cozy Tomato’s illustrations when studying the Mr Porter Journal for our Behind the Screens feature. Cozy Tomato (whose real name is Koji Tomoto) gets commissioned by the guys over there all the time, to add a retro, fun element to their articles on fashion and lifestyle. Cozy’s work is reminiscent of 1950s children’s books and quilts, lots of pointy nosed people with gravity-defying ponytails having a wild, leisure-filled time in the great outdoors. What’s marvellous about Cozy is how his illustrations are so well-researched that they actually could have been lifted from back in the day, and are so packed full of unadulterated, candy-coloured joy that they can spice up even the most intellectually treacle-like article. Perhaps that’s why he gets so many commissions from Monocle.

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    How many times have photographers and writers ventured into the studios of artists to document well-used tools and paint-spattered chairs? About a billion, or maybe more. FINALLY us muggins over here, writing words all day and wearing our fingertips down on white keys (not of the piano variety) are getting a moment of the limelight via Matteo Pericoli’s beautiful new book, Windows on the World.

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    Recently we’ve all been fawning over a Glaswegian studio called Risotto for their super-fun risograph posters, prints and flyers. To be honest, I never thought we’d find an equivalent over the Atlantic in Montreal. Last week, one of our go-to French guys over in Paris, Raphael Garnier, got in touch to tell us about Charmant & Courtois, a French-Canadian design studio with a penchant for printing and some very good parties to go to.

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    Some video directors like to head straight to the lyrics of a song for inspiration. The lyrics of Tom Rosenthal’s song Watermelon are as follows: “It’s watermelon time, I said boom boom boom boom boom boom boom. It’s watermelon time, I said boom boom boom boom boom boom boom. It’s watermelon time, I said boom boom boom boom boom boom boom. It’s watermelon time, I said boom boom boom boom boom boom boom. It’s a fruit based love.” It only seems fitting then that the video accompaniment to this tune is footage of a man in an extremely well-crafted watermelon suit, bounding around the British countryside willy-nilly. Hats off to Sidd Khajuria, Ben Elwyn, Nathan Jones, and Tom Rosenthal himself for keeping things simple, with fantastic results.

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    It’s great when we speak to editors and founders of the best magazines on the stands today, and they say that the reason they created it in the first place was that “There wasn’t a magazine for me on the racks. There wasn’t one that did what I wanted.” Leith Clark is a stylist to the stars, and has been entrenched in the world of fashion and style for over a decade.

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    We love Miranda July so much that, to be honest, even if she stuck some glitter on an empty stick of deodorant we’d still post about it. Luckily she’s much more talented than that and every project she puts out into the world is something to stop and stare at, if only for a little bit. Her latest piece comes in the form of a novel entitled The First Bad Man, already lauded by similar creators such as Lena Dunham, who says of the book: “Never has a novel spoken so deeply to my sexuality, my spirituality, my secret self. I know I am not alone.”

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    Over the past couple of weeks we’ve been hearing from many of the people responsible from some of the best websites around, showcasing their brilliance and asking how and why they’ve made such a success of online publishing. It’s fair to say we’ve saved one of the very best for last. Tim Noakes is editor-in-chief of Dazed, having originally started as an intern back in 2001. Here he tells us what that early east London creative scene was like, how the Dazed website has evolved and why he thinks it’s important for his team to be creating culture, not just reporting on it.

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    One minute magazines are down the pan, the next minute they’re holy items being sought after by big brands in order to put something – nostalgia, mainly – into the grabby hands of their customers. It’s hard to find a trendy brand these days that doesn’t have some sort of editorial arm, but it’s safe to say that few do it with as much style and care as MR PORTER’s Journal.

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    Of all of the art and design sites like It’s Nice That, there are a few that have been there since the very beginning. Jeff Hamada’s Booooooom is one of those, a reliable one-stop-shop for creative, visual inspiration that’s probably been a lot of people’s homepage since they can remember. It’s always fascinated us that Booooooom has been single-handedly created, curated and updated by one man, so we were particularly excited to speak to him about how he’s managed that over the years – particularly when at one point his page views were up to four million per month.

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    A few weeks ago the creative director of The Pitchfork Review Michael Renaud sent through a copy of their latest issue, accompanied by a small zine he had put together and a small note: “enjoy the weird book I designed and printed in 24 hours, I almost died.” There aren’t many large organisations who employ crazed zine-makers and lovers of the weirder things in life, but Pitchfork do. It’s a site we check daily, like the news or the weather, which we can all agree is one of – nay the place to go for fantastic, in-depth reviews of the best music today. And they’re not just some website, oh no – Pitchfork has publications, exclusives and some of the best interactive, moving interviews ever published online (check out this one about Bill Callahan). They even just held an enormous music festival in Paris which The Quietus described as “too perfect.”

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    It’s not often you get to hear the story behind the cover of a magazine, but personally whenever I catch someone speaking of it, my ears prick up in excitement. Our magazine Printed Pages is quarterly, and the cover is often a too-many-cooks, arguing around a table sort of affair – which I actually love. What’s always boggled my mind is how The New Yorker goes through this gruelling tongue-biting process every week. It’s largely down to cartoon expert and art editor of The New Yorker, Francoise Mouly. Her and cover-obsessive contributor Mina Kaneko spend their time debating and discussing which artist would be up for the challenge of inhaling the essence of New York at that very moment, and translating it into an instantly engaging, witty image. The best part is, once the cover is out into the world, they speak to the artist about the process of making it, and what the city means to them.

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    Today’s headline on the BBC about Myleene Klass’ recent outcry about mansion tax reads: “Myleene Klass tax jibe raised in Ed Miliband v David Cameron clash.” Over on The Daily Mash, their headline reads “Dodgy bastard who sold garage to Myleene Klass goes into hiding.” Satire is hard to do. A lot of people have never got it right, and in terms of journalism you could say that only Private Eye and Viz were truly successful, in that they 100% got away with it, and still do.

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    This year, before the fire at the Glasgow School of Art, Frieze travelled up to the city to speak to some its most integral artists and curators about the nature of Glaswegian creativity. From the community “come one, come all” vibes of the 1970s, to the work inspired by the flattening of the tenements to make way for high-rise blocks, these wise talking heads portray a tough city of freedom and spontaneity, underlined with a brutal sadness from times when things weren’t too great. They speak of the time Allen Ginsberg came to town, the wonder of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the gallery boom of the 1990s, and the appeal of the grand buildings in Glasgow with their sweeping staircases and enormous, trademark bay windows providing such beautiful white, Scottish light.

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    People seem to have a real problem with “life hacks” – and you can see why. Some nerd being overly smug about how he’s Sellotaped all his channel changers together isn’t exactly appealing. These guys have taken the whole “hack” craze and made a spoof website of hilarious, often disgusting hacks of their own. One entitled Raw Meat Circuitry sees a pack of mince get stuffed with LEDs and lit up, another entitled The Collaborative Fuck Bike is an easy way to exercise and pleasure your partner. As for the future, the guys behind Stupid Hackathon are plotting “3D printed masks of your own face, a Cute Poop app that makes pictures of your poop look cute and an Edible Unmanned Drone: an unmanned drone that you can eat.” Can’t wait.

  29. Nowness

    I like to think of the internet as a constantly surging, changing sea. Things moving around with the tide, bobbing up, sinking down, re-emerging bloated and crying for attention. In the past few years a lot of sites have tried to keep up with the erratic ebb and flow of attention-grabbing online, posting more cats, GIFs and anything to do with Pharrell. But there is one site that has shrugged off the need to please anyone and everyone at once, a site that posts one piece of exquisite, exclusive content a day: NOWNESS.

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    Remember that incredible Action Bronson music video that saw him tearing down a highway in the style of Easy Rider? Well the director, Tom Gould, is back with some more sound and vision to get you going today. For his latest piece, Tom ventured into a well-known strip club in New Zealand called LAS VEGAS, which happens to be the oldest in the country. Rather than making a run-of-the-mill gritty doc about an old club in decay, Tom decided to concentrate on a curious story within the establishment by way of Adrian, the DJ at the nightclub who has worked there for over 40 years. The clincher? Adrian strictly refers to himself as the “Sound & Lighting Technician,” and is something of an eccentric, wizened old man with a good story to tell. Intrigued? See for yourself.

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    Right now, illustrator-turned artist extraordinaire Jordy van den Niewendijk is probably having a nap. For the last few weeks he’s been rushing around the world getting his work together for a very exciting solo show at New York’s trendy Moiety Gallery. It’s safe to say Jordy is one of our favourite artists, and to see his work evolve aesthetically over the years yet still cling on to that trademark style is great, a little bit like watching one of those cool videos of flowers blooming in slow-mo.

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    We couldn’t do a digital publishing feature without speaking to Freunde von Freunden. Their venture has been a printed magazine masquerading as a website for years, and follows one enticing, addictive format: visiting the carefully decorated habitats of artists and creatives, photographing it, and interviewing them about their lifestyle and work. Frederik Frede is the man behind this simple, beautiful publishing enterprise, and here speaks of why FvF works so well online, the importance of collaboration, and FvF’s new shared apartment where they hold meetings, dinner parties and sleepovers with lucky clients.

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    As part of our month-long feature on the people behind some of the best online publishing ventures around, we’ve spoke to some of the most important big dogs of online content publishing. But where there’s big dogs, there’s also weird smelly dogs, and that’s how I like to think of Brown Cardigan. They’ve been providing millions of people with stuff to attach to the bottom of emails for years, and have been churning out and spreading some of the most memorable memes in recent history. And so the anonymous team behind Brown Cardigan tell us about their audience, how the internet’s changed the world and the story of their “wordless mood-board for perverted immature grown folks.” Enjoy!

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    We love sites like these: a simple idea, executed brilliantly and contributed-to by a host of fantastic creatives. From Your Desks is a website set up by Kate Donnelly that invites people in the art world to submit photographs of their workspace, which she then accompanies with a short but sweet interview about what they do. Personally, seeing the detritus surrounding someone’s desk gives me the same building curiosity as seeing inside their bedroom – it’s such an important, personal space and can be surprisingly revealing. There’s nearly 350 interviews on Kate’s site, and below we’ve picked a few photographs of the desks of some of our favourite artists including Adrian Tomine, Maya Fuhr, Christoph Niemann and Nat Russell. Enjoy!

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    Behold the first in our bunch of articles you’ll see on the site in the coming weeks exploring the ever-changing world of online publishing. We go on and on about the state of printed magazines, and it can be easy to forget the brilliance that is churned out every day by people all over the internet. Over the next few weeks we’ll be speaking to some of the people we regard as the best online publishers, to try and get a hold on what’s going on in this world. To kick this off, we’ve asked a few editors and founders of our favourite sites what they truly love about online publishing. Here they are…

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    Art and music go together like warm Yorkshire puddings and gravy, everyone knows that! But it’s even more delicious when the artist and musician love each other so much that they collaborate again, and again, and again. Such is the nature of Norwegian duo DJ Todd Terje and artist Bendik Kaltenborn. Bendik’s been cracking out spectacular designs, posters, comics and illustrations for years and has spent his time of late designing album artwork for the wonderful Todd. Now I’m not saying no one would listen to Todd’s music without such appealing album artwork (if you’ve ever seen him live, you get the feeling that a lot of people love his music a LOT) but with sleeve artwork as good as this, how can people not buy it? Here’s to two good friends who are making a living by feeding off each other’s talent (Todd recently made special songs to accompany Bendik’s book!) and long may they continue.

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    “Family is like a soup, everyone adds an extra scoop, mix an ounce of smiles so sweet, a dash of cool to add the heat and you’ve got….too many cooks!” So goes the lyrics for a theme-tune to what looks like a 1980s/90s family sitcom à la Third Rock From The Sun or Home Improvement. It’s actually the latest work of the lords of online comedy, Adult Swim. This insane new infomercial is a homage to the opening credits of yore, featuring smiling children and chino-donning dads smiling and tossing baseballs at a seemingly unexpected camera.

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    No one photographs teenagers like Jamie Hawkesworth. For years we’ve been posting about his ability to capture the infinitely curious in-between stage of adolescence, and quietly knowing that he’s the guy who’s currently got the monopoly on this topic. Recently though, alongside shooting youngsters for mags such as AnOther and The New York Times Style, Jamie’s has been lending his skills to some corporate magazines and brands – a far cry from his time roaming the bus shelters of northern England or the Whitby Goth Festival. This year Jamie was approached by Lexus’ magazine Beyond to follow two chocolatiers on a journey into deepest Vietnam on the hunt for a rare cacao bean. Slight change of scenery.

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    It’s great when musicians are handy with pens as well as complicated musical instruments. Over the years we’ve always chatted about the wonder of people who don’t get enough pleasure out of one creative outlet and must pour it into another, and we’re pleased to welcome one to you today. JW plays in Leeds psych band Hookworms who have just released their spectacular new album Hum on Domino Records. JW is also a very talented illustrator and designer, and actually took it upon himself to design the sleeve for their latest release, along with a whole bunch of posters for their frequent, sweaty gigs.

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    Music publishing is in a strange place. There are certain places we go to get our fix: Dazed, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, NME, ’SUP and FACT to name but a few, but the atmosphere of the industry feels slightly scattered. Do people still want their music news in printed form when the internet will always get there first? We were curious to speak to Hanna Hanra who is the editor of BEAT magazine, on how she started, why the hell she’s doing it, and what the publication aims to do. I asked Hanna who the magazine was aimed at and she answered: “Well, myself, primarily.” Here she is…